The transition to virtual learning and back to in-class instruction has been a tricky one to navigate for educators in Maine and throughout the country. I applaud them for the wonderful work done during these most challenging times. One thing that is making things more manageable is the new statewide pooled testing program for COVID-19.

In this program, teachers monitor — and occasionally assist as needed — as students perform nasal swab tests on themselves. Individual samples are pooled together and tested using just one COVID-19 test, drastically reducing the costs involved for the state. The program is completely free for schools that want to participate. The entire process takes roughly 15 minutes, once weekly, giving teachers and school officials information necessary to help keep classrooms safe.

Pooled testing will keep classrooms healthier by helping to proactively identify asymptomatic students before infections spread. That gives parents greater security knowing we are doing everything we can to keep their children safe, which will be especially important as we will all be navigating our first in-person cold and flu season during the pandemic. After the year we have all had, and with the delta variant increasing in prevalence across the country, the importance of Maine families having that sense of comfort and safety cannot be overstated. 

As an educator, I am thankful this program is giving educators another resource to help make the return to in-person education a safer, more secure and more data-driven one.

Elena K. Perrello, EdD NCC
Retired Maine school counselor,
professor of counselor education
Bangor

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